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Spokane County Pulls Property Tax Measure from Ballot

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane County Commissioners announced today (Tuesday) they’re taking a property tax ballot measure off of the November ballot. The resolution would have asked taxpayers for permission to raise county property taxes by the more than 1% allowed by the state. The decision was made because the legislature has decided on its own property tax increase.

The legislature’s method for raising significantly more money for public schools is to increase the state property tax.

Commissioner Al French says the county surveyed the seven largest school districts in the county to learn how much the state tax increase would impact homeowners next year. He says it found the average homeowner will pay 87 cents more per thousand dollars of assessed valuation, between $150-170 more for taxpayers on average.

Before they learned that the commissioners had decided last month that they would put their own property tax measure on the ballot. French says they’ve changed their mind.

“Because of this significant tax increase that our voters are going to be confronted with in 2018, we did not feel comfortable as a board going to the voters and asking them whether they wanted to impose more taxes on themselves in order to fund county government,” French told reporters on Tuesday.

He says the county will instead develop a 2018 budget that will include no new taxes and about nine-and-a-half million dollars in spending cuts. He says the county will consider transferring money from its road budget to cover some of that and it may decide to pull some money from its reserves, although he says he’s hesitant to do that.

French said the commissioners expect a much more transparent budgeting process this year, possibly involving several sessions for the public to comment.